If you are new to blogging, you may not be aware of all the upfront and recurring costs to maintain and enhance your blog. When you started your blog, did you have any idea how much money was going to be involved in start up cost? I didn’t either. So I thought about this for a while and decided it would be a good idea to write a post to inform everyone what to expect and what to look for. I also created a startup budget for your blog that can be modified as you grow.
Sure, some of the items are optional, and even some are free. Depending on how quickly or how far you want to grow your blog, your costs could range from $15 to over $200 every month just starting out. This is why you need a budget for your blog. I have included a free Startup Budget for your Blog printout to help you. You can get it here:
Startup Costs to Consider in the Budget for your Blog
You will need to purchase a domain name and hosting. Domain names range from $2.99 to $15 for the reasonable ones. Usually, you buy your domain name in conjunction with your hosting. You donât have to, though. You can get your name from GoDaddy and host with Siteground, for example. Letâs look at some of these costs.
1. Your Domain Name
Your domain name will cost anywhere from $2.99 to $15.99. Don’t be fooled by the $2.99 cost. It may sound good, but the hosting company may charge you $2.99 for the first year, and $35.99 every year after. Others will charge you $15.99 the first year and $13.99 every year after. Some also include add-ins while others nickel and dime you to death. Look at the entire offer, not just the price.
For purposes of this exercise, letâs use $15.99 per year. Some of you may prefer to pay annually, so make sure that is listed as an annual cost. Or you can break it down as a monthly expense by dividing the cost by 12.
See a comparison of the most common hosting companies in my article, “Best Website Hosting for WordPress“.
With hosting, the cost can be anywhere from $3.99 to $195. And as a new blogger with low traffic and subscribers, you’re better off going with the lowest, but that doesn’t mean the cheapest. What I mean by that is there are good ones that will host your content and has good customer service that is fairly inexpensive.
For the purposes of this article, we’ll only look at two, SiteGround and FastComet. A third company that is popular is Bluehost. You will hear many people say they do not like Bluehost due to the lack of customer service. They have customer service, but it isn’t very good. Bluehost advertises $3.95/month for the very basic setup. It doesn’t not include SSL. The first one to include SSL is the pro setup at $13.95 per month. I highly recommend you pay your hosting as an annual cost. So in this case, Basic would be $71.40. The Pro version would run $239.40 before discounts.
Siteground has the best customer service and is my preferred vendor. To set up your SiteGround account, you can use my referral link at SiteGround. At this time, I also highly recommend FastComet (see referral link below).
We will be showing how to set up both in my example at Setup Your Blog Hosting for the Technically Challenged. The costs for SiteGround are Basic $3.95/month and DOES include SSL (This is HIGHLY recommended), and $5.95/month for their GrowBig (more than 1 website). So annual costs would be $47.40 for the Basic and $71.40 for the GrowBig. Again I highly recommend annual payment for your hosting.
3. Plug-Ins and Plug-In Costs
This is my favorite answer regarding Plug-Ins…”it depends”. You can buy all of the plug-ins and their upgrades and have way too much. Or you can be selective. I prefer being selective.
Most of the standard plug-ins I recommend are free. A few are paid or upgrade available. You should add both the free and paid items in your budget for your blog. You can get more detailed information on these in a later post. The ones I recommend are:
- *Akismet Anti-Spam (I pay for the upgrade on this one)
- Better Search Replace
- Classic Editor
- *Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
- Head, Footer and Post Injections
- *iThemes Security
- Jetpack (controversial…some love it … some hate it)
- *SG Optimizer
- *Social Pug (recommend upgrade on this)
- Table of Contents Plus
- Tasty Pins (I paid for this one)
- *Updraft Plus (I pay for this one)
- WP Instagram Widget
- *Yoast SEO (you can get alot of good info here. Upgrade is truly optional)
Keep in mind, too many plug-ins is a bad thing. They can overtake each other, get themselves in a loop, or slow your website way down.
I would start with the ones with the star (*) above. So let’s look at the costs of those:
- Akismet – $5 per site per month
- Analytics – Google Analytics is free, MonsterSite lite is free, their “Plus” is $99. I recommend sticking with the free and going to Google Analytics if you want more details
- iThemes Security – You can upgrade for about $50-75 a year, but the free version works just fine
- SG Optimizer – this is also free
- Social Pug – free version is limited. $29/year. HIGHLY recommend purchasing.
4. Emailer and Costs
Before you know it, you’ll need to invest in an emailer client. There are several that are free (Mailchimp if you’re going free), and two recommended that are paid (ConvertKit, MailerLite). These are discussed in detail in a later post. Mailchimp is limited and the differences between the free version and paid version is astronomical. Here’s the costs. You will need to pick one:
- MailChimp – free, but limited OR
- MailerLite – free version up to 1,000 subscribers, but limited; $10 a month for upgraded version up to 1,000 subscribers, $15 a month or up to 2,500 subscribers (recommended) OR
- ConvertKit – 0 – 1,000 subscribers, $29 per month (HIGHLY Recommended), 1,000 to 3,000 subscribers, $49 per month. I would include the $29 monthly in the budget for your blog.
- See the reasons I prefer ConvertKit to MailerLite in another post.
5. Document Processing
There are basically just a few types of document processing I recommend. You’ll use these to create opt-ins, flyers, some graphics, etc. Depending on the suite of products you get, will depend on whether or not it performs well with photos. Choose one of the following:
Microsoft Office 365
Microsoft Office 365 – $9.99 / month per user. Includes all office products, such as Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and Access. I actually prefer their business plan which includes all of the products above PLUS hosting your email on an exchange server, OneDrive for Business (1 TB storage), Teams, Meetings, and Microsoft Planner. This suite DOES allow you to “Print to PDF” which is helpful as well.
Open Office – Totally 100% free. It is an open source project and does come with updates. It includes Writer, Calc (spreadsheet), Impress (presentations), Draw (3d illustrations), base (database), Math (equations by graphical interface). Has a small learning curve but not much.
Google products – free ones are only web-based and include Documents, Sheets (spreadsheets), and Presentations. Also includes a small Google Cloud Drive. They have another option called Google G-Suite. The smallest option here is $6/month and includes Gmail business email, video and voice conferencing, secure team messaging, shared calendars, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, 30G cloud storage. The business option (recommended) is $12.50 per user per month and also includes all of the above options plus unlimited cloud storage, Smart Search across all Gmail drives, 24/7 support, security, and administrative controls.
6. Photo and Graphic Processing
There are a few free and paid versions that I recommend for photo and graphic processing. The very best free AND paid version is Canva, in my opinion. I like the Adobe suite but it is extremely difficult to learn if you are unfamiliar with graphic artistry. Choose one of the following:
PicMonkey – No longer free. The basic plan is $7.99 per month. 1G storage, all the features except priority support and the ability to upload your own fonts. Pro plan is $12.99 per month and includes everything listed here.
Canva – There is a free version that many people still use. I used it for a while, then converted to the Pro version (Previously Canva for Work). I have not been disappointed. The Pro version is $12.99 per month but also includes exclusive access to 400,000 free photos, illustrations, and templates (there are a few considerations, such as some have to have their name somewhere on the photo, etc.). Also includes the magic resize, which in my opinion, is worth the $12.99. Say you create a featured image. Now you want that featured image to be a Pinterest image. Normally, you have to recreate it as a Pinterest image, copying and pasting wherever necessary. Using the Magic Resize, you simply click the button! There are several other things that you get with Canva Pro. This is HIGHLY recommended.
Adobe Creative Cloud
Adobe Creative Cloud – If you are already an Adobe user, this is the best thing in the world. If you’re not…there is a steep learning curve, but it DOES provide lots of flexibility. There are several options you can choose from. The Individual Photograph group includes Lightroom, Photoshop, and 20G of cloud storage for $9.99/month. This is the minimum I would recommend. You can get a single app for 20.99, or all apps for $52.99 per month and up to 10TB of storage. If you happen to be a teacher or a student, you can get all apps for $19.99 / month. It does require institutional affiliation. They do run specials occasionally as well. You can also subscribe to Adobe Stock Photos, which is an additional $29.99. It allows you 10 stock photos per month for free (with considerations).
7. Video processing
You will need a camera for video (DLS) or web camera for creating videos. You can ALSO use your cell phone provided the quality is good enough. The iPhone series starting with 7 has awesome photo and video capabilities. I recommend you start with that if you have one. If you don’t, start with simple web video camera. You can get one of the best ones on Amazon for anywhere from $39 to $99. Here’s a list you can peruse.
I personally prefer the Logitech C922x Pro Stream Webcam. It’s currently around $79 at Amazon and Best Buy.
That handles your photo/video options, but now you need something to edit your videos. There are a couple I recommend. If you’re using a Mac, the easiest and best is iMovie. It’s also free with the Mac OS. If you have the Adobe suite, the next best thing is Premiere Pro. There is a learning curve, but it isn’t too bad. You can get it for $20.99/month if you aren’t already an Adobe suite user. Otherwise, it’s free. If you don’t have either of those, Camtasia is probably the best. It’s a little pricy, but it’s a one time cost of $249. Movavi is a cheaper version for $59.99, but it isn’t as highly recommended as Camtasia. The best free version is VideoPad. I have no experience with this one, but it looks simple enough to understand.
You’ll be surprised at how these little things add up. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up paying about $250 a month before you begin to know what you need. So I highly recommend doing this budget for your blog and sticking with it. If you find out that there’s a new program out there that you like better and you want to use it instead, take one off first. Do not just keep adding programs, it will get out of control.
So, in a nutshell, here’s what you need to determine:
- Domain Name
- Emailer System
- Document Processing
- Photo and Graphics
Don’t forget…you can get the Startup Budget for your Blog below for free!
You also should consider the yearly costs for things like hosting and your domain name. It will sneak up on you if you’re not careful. So take a little time, and do this blog budget worksheet. You’ll be glad you did.
Annie, Your Fairy BlogMother
P.S. OH I almost forgot! I’ve included an example blog budget spreadsheet in the Resource Library that you can use to help you complete yours! I’d be really interested in how you liked it. Please join my Facebook group Your Fairy BlogMother to get questions answered or just general information! Would love to see you there!
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